Who-Dey?! Not the Steelers, I pray! Sunday's NFL match up between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers is a big deal on it’s own this season, but especially for my husband and I. The Stambaughs are a divided house when it comes to football loyalties.
Carl has been a Steelers fan since its “Steel Curtain” days of the 1970s. He's got throwback jersies and can name pretty much every football player on the team from its inception until now.
I, on the other hand, was born and raised in Cincinnati, so the Bengals are my team. Always have been. Always will be. Period.
My first Bengal football memories are from our last Super Bowl appearance in 1990. I was six. I remember the excitement of that season and the disappointment. We will win a Vince Lombardi Trophy someday. Our time will come and I’ll be a fan for every season until then and every one after.
Carl has teased me forever about my team’s dismal record - 303 wins to 385 losses in franchise history, always in the context of him trying to convert me to supporting "a winning team." His, of course.
I'm not some fair weather, bandwagon fan, I fire back. It takes real perseverance and enduring hope to be a Bengals fan.
Case in point: Games aren’t even on TV in Cincinnati most of the time. You’ve got to go out of your way to watch, or for a lot of us, to listen to a game.
Being a Bengals fan means being accustomed to disappointment. For Bengals fans no victory go unappreciated. Every one is savored.
Steelers fan simply expect to win. They pout when they don’t.
That’s why a Bengals victory over the Steelers is really all I want for Christmas. The win would clinch a playoff spot for us and knock the Steeler's out, entitling me to a year's worth of bragging rights. Oh, how sweet that revenge would be.
It all goes back to the most painful loss in recent Bengal history, the 2005 wildcard playoff game between the Bengals and the Steelers, their first ever. It was the year when, as I yell at my husband when he brings it up: “That your fat (expletive) defensive end fell on my quarterback!”
For those of you who don't remember the game, early in the first quarter the Steelers defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen rushed quarterback Carson Palmer, and rolled onto his leg from the ground. It shredded the ligaments and tendons in Palmer’s knee, and our championship dream for that year.
The Steelers would go on to win the Super Bowl that year. It was also the year Carl and I started dating and our epic rivalry began.
For the first few years we bet on both regular season games. If a sweep happened, the loser spent the year wearing the other team’s jersey. If they split the games, it was a draw.
I lost twice in a row and even had to wear a Polamalu jersey on my wedding night. The year the Bengals swept the Steelers, we didn’t bet.
We don’t have an active wager this year either. There’s been a longstanding one on the table, but it is pretty brutal.
The loser has to dress like the winning teams mascot and attend a game at their hometown stadium. I’m so confident in my team’s ability this year that I’m considering taking the leap...
Carl would look awfully good wearing orange and black at Paul Brown Stadium.
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2653.